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Israeli officer gets community service for brutal assault on US teen

Nov. 19, 2015 2:15 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2015 8:17 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli border policeman responsible for brutally assaulting a Palestinian-American teenager last year has escaped a jail sentence,Israeli media reported Wednesday,instead receiving six weeks of community service.

Tarek Abu Khdeir, 15, was severely beaten by masked Israeli police officers last summer in the Shufat neighborhood of East Jerusalem amid clashesfollowing news that his cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish extremists.

Video footage capturing the beating emerged later that evening and went viral as word spread that Tarek was an American citizen.

Muhammad, 16, had been kidnapped and burned alive by suspected Jewish extremists two days prior.

The Israeli policeman who repeatedly beat and kicked Tarek in his head, face, shoulders, and upper body was given the six-week verdict Tuesday despite the prosecution’s request for a seven-month sentence in prison, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Israeli Judge Dana Cohen-Lekac considered “mitigating circumstances such as the policeman’s lack of a criminal record, positive character references and the fact that the policeman lost his job after the incident,” when making the decision.

Israeli police said at the time of Tarek’s detention that he was wearing a mask and carrying a slingshot. Tarek denied he was involved in the demonstration.

The teen required medical treatment following the severe force used by the policeman, and was later sentenced to nine days under house arrest.

Prisoners’ rights group Addameer at the time called on international rights organizations and the US consulate to attend Tarek’s court hearing following his detention.

"State-sanctioned violence against children is unlawful and unacceptable," Addameer said, urging the bodies to “investigate the intensified aggression against Palestinian children.”

The policeman -- whose name remains under a gag order -- was initially indicted on Sept. 2014 in an investigation the family and rights groups said was only carried out due to Tarek’s US citizenship.

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